Sunday, July 12, 2009

Someday in Tel Aviv...

 When I was young, my parents kept the liquor on the left hand side of the pantry on the third shelf from the bottom.  My father, when he was alive, would sometimes enjoy a glass of wine with dinner and I vaguely recall him sometimes having a gin and tonic.  There was always a bottle of Pinch or Cutty for my grandfather who had a single scotch on the rocks every night of his life until he died.   But, in truth, my parents drank very little in spite of the very well-stocked bar, which included some exotics that were either gifts from traveling relatives or bottles brought back from whatever country my father had visited on his various business trips.  One bottle in particular that I remember, a bottle that was never opened and probably still sits on a dusty shelf in my mother’s house, was something called Sabra. 

Sabra is an Israeli liqueur, advertised as being “chocolate with a hint of orange” and bottled in a flask that looks like something a genie could pop out of.  I never tasted Sabra, but I was always drawn to the bottle, more because of the name than because of what it might contain.   The word “Sabra” actually refers to a native of Israel and as a child the word evoked images of dark-haired exotic girls with coal-rimmed eyes and flowing garb.  My mother was born in Tel Aviv, though she has almost no memory of her birthplace and certainly doesn’t look anything like what imagined a Sabra to be. And although I didn’t visit until I was in my 40s, I always harbored sort of a fantasy about Israel (which worked out nicely since my third husband, aka Sig Other, is actually Israeli).

So it is no accident, really, that I find myself sitting in the hot summer sun by the pool at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem remembering that dusty bottle that sat on the liquor shelf of my childhood.  There are no Sabras here - no dark-haired exotic girls in either bikinis or army fatigues.  The truth is, the pool at The King David Hotel is packed with overweight American tourists and their squawking children.  And, at the King David Hotel, I’m sort of a hotty.  A middle-aged hotty but a hotty nonetheless.  This was decidedly NOT the case as I sat with the throngs on the beach yesterday in Tel Aviv.

Yesterday in Tel Aviv was hot.  The hottest day of the year so far, according to Sig Other’s relatives.  And it was a Friday.  Which meant that by just after lunch, businesses started to close and locals hit the beach.  Gorgeous, long-haired girls with dark tans, tiny bikinis and amazing bodies sit smoking and gossiping in plastic chairs on the sand or playing matkot with their handsome boyfriends.  At the outdoor café on the beach, barely-dressed tattoed girls flirt with rasta-braided boys in groovy sandles and long shorts as the speakers blare a sort of Middle-Eastern fusion rap.  Pumped-up pierced men flirt with each other and make plans to meet later after the sun goes down and Sig Other and I watch it all unnoticed, with the kids - a family made invisible by the pulse of young life around us.  There are old folks here as well – wrinkly, tan couples holding hands, playing cards and moving slowly in the sticky heat.  Tel Aviv is sort of like Miami really – a place where old and young dominate and everything in between is somehow missing.  I suppose, like any big city, the middle-aged folks – those of child-rearing age – have fled the city and are making their homes on the outskirts, leaving the vibrancy of city-life to the retired and the young. 

I’m jealous of the youth in Tel Aviv – jealous of the Sabras taking advantage of the pulsating, sexy, sweaty summer nights.  But I will never be a Sabra.  I am not young, was not born in Israel and do not have the dark curly hair of my fantasy.  That opportunity – the opportunity to be young and vibrant in Tel Aviv - has long since passed.  I could, however, still be old in Tel Aviv.  I could be old and retired and playing shesh-besh on the beach with Sig Other – both of us over-tanned, no longer concerned about too much sun or too many wrinkles or too much flab around the edges of our bathing suits.  We could hold hands as we walk along the beach and talk about when the children will come visit us and what we’ll do about dinner.  The opportunities missed are only as sad as I allow them to be.  And the opportunities that lay ahead are far more enthralling than whatever time I spend thinking about what I passed by along the way.  Maybe someday, I'll be an old woman with my old man taking a walk on the beach in Tel Aviv.  Maybe...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

you are hot wherever you are, mrs. l!

this was *not* written by your husband, by the way.